Honest aid

Recipients of aid are often suspicious of the motives of the giver. This is not surprising, given the history of colonialism, including paternalistic ethical policies that existed alongside policies of systematic exploitation, and sometimes shocking stories of interventions by powerful countries in the affairs of the less powerful, even after they gained independence. (The point of this blog post is not to argue which stories are true and which are false – the point is that people believe them, and some societies are inclined to believe the most inflated versions of them.)

Alanna Shaikh argues that in this context, it doesn’t make sense to claim that we are giving aid out of the pure goodness of our heart. It not only puts us in a superior position which we may not deserve, but it’s likely to be disbelieved. So how about we tell the truth?

“We want your kids to grow up strong and healthy so that they work hard, get rich, buy American products and don’t become terrorists.” That’s an ulterior motive that makes sense.

(Replace “American” with your own nationality, if you’re from a donor country.)

Much more at Alanna Shaikh’s original post.

Aid agencies need to make themselves irrelevant

If you make technology appropriate and you make the how-tos accessible, you can get people to solve the problems themselves. They don’t need aid agencies any more. That’s the dichotomy, that’s the problem that the aid sector’s got to face, with this knowledge. It’s got to try and release it, to achieve their mission, but it also means that a lot of their revenue streams, a lot of their purpose will become redundant. And this is generated by people themselves.” Andrew Lamb, CEO, EWB-UK and director of the Appropedia Foundation.

That’s from this presentation by Vinay Gupta and Andrew Lamb at the recent Open Knowledge Conference in London: